Sri Lanka has several big national parks. First, we visited Minneriya National Park located close to Dambulla in the central part of Sri Lanka. The main attractions here are wild elephants, but you may also find reptiles and all kinds of birds.
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean. The park covers 979 square kilometres and was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds.
Tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka and accounts for 2% of GDP. Nuwara Eliya is considered to be the most important location for tea production. It is at an altitude of almost 1900 m and is known for its cool climate – the coolest area in Sri Lanka. We stayed at Blackpool Hotel, a former tea plantation. The population is mostly Tamil tea workers. The salaries for the tea workers is very low and therfore the living condition for these people is rather poor..
Places of interest
Sigiriya, a is an ancient rock fortress located near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres high.
According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the king's death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. (Ref. Wikipedia.)
Dambulla cave temple, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka.
Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. Major attractions are spread over five caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Gautama Buddha and his life. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses. The latter include Vishnu and the Ganesha. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square meters.
Prehistoric Sri Lankans would have lived in these cave complexes before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka as there are burial sites with human skeletons about 2700 years old in this area, at Ibbankatuwa near the Dambulla cave complexes. (Ref. Wikipedia.)
At the south coast
I came across this fishing village at the end of a beach near the Yala National Park. Actually, it was not allowed to visit them as a tourist, but I did not understand that before afterward. Anyway, the fishermen were friendly and seemed to enjoy my visit. I noticed it was only men in the village and was told that this was not a permanent village, but temporary housing for the fishermen from September to March each year.